Tuesday, 21 November 2006

Sunday, November 5

Introduction and Arrival

The famous Northern Circuit consists of a number of safari variations. There is so much to see in this part of Tanzania that the safari combinations people choose can be vastly different depending on the amount of time they have, money they’re willing to spend and, most importantly, what their interests are.

I’d been reading about this for quite some time and I’d heard numerous stories from colleagues and friends. Over time it began to crystallize in my head what I wanted to do given the amount of time we had.

The plan was to begin on Monday with Lake Manyara National Park, followed by the famous Ngorongoro Crater and finish off by a day in the Serengeti. Since my brother Curtis and I had planned the Kilimanjaro climb for the week prior, I figured we would rest over the weekend before loading ourselves into a safari vehicle.

The other family members that would join were in Kenya for a few days before coming to Tanzania. My brother-in-law, Brett, had a timeshare condo in Malindi where they stayed and became acclimated to the time zone and a bit to East African culture as well. Accompanying him were my sister Lisa, my mom and my other sister Carol (Jean). Curtis and I would pick them up at Kilimanjaro airport the Sunday after our climb and we’d head off on safari the next day.

I have to admit, the Kili climb, the safari, the subsequent Zanzibar trip and a day in Dar es Salaam, with all the logistics involved, was quite a challenge to organize. There were so many opportunities for things to go wrong – especially in Tanzania – that I felt very fortunate when it pretty much went off without a hitch. A big victory was when I peered through the glass and saw them file into the baggage claim area after the arrival of their plane.

After a warm greeting and a welcome to Tanzania, we piled into the safari vehicle and headed to the cushy Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge. We were supposed to stay in the Impala Hotel in Arusha but after Curtis and I had been temporarily moved to the Ngurdoto, there was no going back. We made sure that this calm, expansive lodge would be our home both at the beginning and end of our trip. It’s not that my family needs luxury; I guess I just thought it’d be a nice touch for this once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

We had a drink at the hotel bar near the pool and exchanged some stories before we headed off to bed. I have to admit I was pretty excited to have so much of my family here and very happy to head out exploring a part of this country I hadn’t seen before. Doing all this on the heels of a successful Kilimanjaro climb made it all the sweeter.

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